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Who Gets To Say Where The Road Ends?
Part of the problem with spawning is the responsibility you have to the kiddies. So, on one hand I can understand the need for a guy to not endanger himself, but on the other hand, how do you deny a person the one thing that makes them happy on the level of a Labrador bounding after a dirty tennis ball?

Jeff Opdyke writes in The Wall Street Journal of his own experience being pushed by his wife to give up soccer -- and of the experiences of other men giving up sports they loved -- so as not to endanger the family income pool, diminish the man's ability for childcare, for help around the house, and/or for other exigencies:

As I've noted in the past, I play soccer -- specifically, goalkeeper. And though I'm 41 years old, I play with the vigor and intensity -- Amy, my wife, would say "stupidity" -- of a 20-year-old. Either way, all my numerous injuries have been minor...until now.

I suffered a blow to my right quadriceps in a recent game that nearly resulted in emergency surgery -- a procedure in which the doctor would slice open my leg to relieve pressure from the blood that had accumulated in my muscle.

This -- a major injury -- has been Amy's biggest fear surrounding my soccer exploits. While she's concerned about my health, of course, she also worries that I will damage my body to such a degree that it affects my ability to earn a living as a writer. As it is, I've hurt my hands in so many ways that I now cannot remove my wedding ring because my ring-finger knuckle is so swollen.

Had any of my injuries been worse, she complains, "you might not be able to be a writer, and then what do we do?"

Her question always gives me pause -- and, as a result of the latest injury, has led to some pretty lively debates in our house of late. The immediate issue is whether I should hang up my soccer-goalie gloves. But the broader issue is even more difficult: Can a spouse veto your hobbies when those activities potentially affect your livelihood?

...Every time something like this happens, Amy quickly pushes me to retire from soccer, reminding me that I risk not only the family's income stream, but the ability to play with my kids and travel with her or even navigate the long flight of stairs at our lake house.

...Just as quickly, though, I disregard her complaints and continue playing. I love this game.

I've been off the field just two weeks, and despite passing out, despite throwing up in the doctor's office because of the pain, despite the pain I currently feel when walking, I cannot wait to return to the goal. If I could choose to do anything, I'd play goalkeeper every day; I love the game that much.

Amy doesn't share a similar passion for any particular activity, so it's hard for her to relate. She does, however, have a passion for family. And to her I'm jeopardizing all we've worked for.

He writes of a friend whose wife got him to give up playing baseball:

Without putting her foot down, my colleague says she encouraged her husband to forgo baseball for the family's benefit, telling him he needed to consider the family's future. So far he has kept himself on the bench. But the game constantly calls to him.

"I miss that part of my life," Eleazar says. "There's no other sport I like nearly as much. I was very happy and now it's gone. I feel like I'm missing something in my life. But, to me, it comes down to what's more important: my hobby, or my job and my family? If something happens to me and I can't pursue my job because I can't use my legs, that would be more devastating than not playing baseball.

"But I do miss the game. A lot."

And speaking of The Wall Street Journal, who thinks it was wrong for Daniel Pearl to continue doing such dangerous work in such a dangerous part of the world after he knew he had a kid on the way?

In 2002, for CNN, Brian Cabell wrote of a remark the WSJ managing ed made before Pearl was brutally murdered by the terrorists who kidnapped him:

"This is a man who lives for three things," Paul Steiger, the Journal's managing editor, said recently. "He lives for covering stories accurately. He lives for his wife -- they have a wonderful relationship -- and he lives for his unborn child."

Mariane Pearl is about seven months pregnant with their first child.

Posted by aalkon at July 29, 2007 11:26 AM

Comments

This is what people mean when they accuse childless people of selfishness. Personally, I don't think selfishness is a bad thing, so long as you don't let it potentially harm someone else.

When you have a child, WHAT YOU WANT STOPS BEING IMPORTANT. Therefore, you stop doing the dangerous things YOU love, for the benefit of the child. Remember, this is a future adult here, not a trophy.

You get hurt and leave your wife in the lurch, that's fine. She's a big girl, and she ought to be able to handle herself. She was doing fine before you came along and put yourself in a wheelchair, after all.

But if you're the primary breadwinner, and you put yourself out of commission, not only can't you bring home the cash, but you can't stay home and care for the kid while your wife does. So what the hell good are you to anyone at that point.

The moral of the story is this: when you decided to make another person, you decided to put away the things you do for their benefit.

Hang up the cleats.

Posted by: brian at July 29, 2007 4:31 AM

Here is my opinion, if your wife think she has the right to tell you to give up something you love doing for the good of the familly, you can do the same to her.

Equality in all things, even killing dreams.

Posted by: lujlp at July 29, 2007 4:53 AM

The guy quoted here is a writer. He could write if he were paralyzed from the neck down and had to dictate into a computer - might be more difficult, but he could do it. If he made his living digging ditches and were drag racing at incredibly high speeds, illegally, every weekend, I could see his spouse having a point. As it is, I have a feeling that he might have dialed back on the soccer involvement somewhat years ago were it not for the fact that he's getting emotionally blackmailed into doing so. And what are the real chances that someone playing *baseball* is going to wind up a paraplegic/quadraplegic? He's probably got a better chance of getting paralyzed through a car accident. The money thing may be an argument, but if that's the case, then the couple needs to sit down, go over their inflow and outflow, and decide in which ways the entire family can cut back. Maybe she gets her hair cut at SuperCuts and he plays less soccer/baseball/whatever.

Force someone to give up things that he or she loves "because of the children," and "the children" suddenly start seeming like less of a joy, and more of a burden. As does the marriage itself. This is the type of thing that really turns single people off of marriage. Because, if I were married to someone who told me, "It's irresponsible of you to go skiing, because you might hurt yourself and WE HAVE CHILDREN!," I would respond...poorly. You run the risk of creating a marriage that does not work well when "the children" are grown and gone. Watch - this guy will quit soccer now and start again when he's 65 and retired. Or something.

Posted by: marion at July 29, 2007 6:25 AM

As for Daniel Pearl...he was doing not only what he loved, but something that was (IMHO) helping to make the world better. He was doing it when Mariane Pearl met and married him. She knew what she was getting into when she decided to have a child with him. If he had started his dangerous investigations only after his wife got pregnant, I might feel differently, but right now there are plenty of US fathers and mothers dying in Iraq as part of the war on terror, however you feel about that. Journalism is sometimes a dangerous job. It's SUPPOSED to be a dangerous job at times. We tend to forget that as we get drowned in a tide of self-congratulatory editorials in which people bleat about their courage in standing up to censorship, CENSORSHIP!!! because some people disagree with their views, but it's true. I feel incredibly sorry for Daniel Pearl's son and his wife...however, that doesn't make me say, "Oh, he was irresponsible for investigating terrorism!" It makes me say, "Oh, those people were evil for killing him, and we have to find ways to fight against that." YMMV.

Posted by: marion at July 29, 2007 6:33 AM

While I do believe that hobbies and passions are necessary for everyone's mental health, if an injury would impact family income (or worse in the case of a broken neck, potentially decimate the family financially) then the guys need to think about that.

Maybe his wife doesn't have a Passion Hobby, but I'd bet she's given up plenty (a quiet afternoon with a book, time to work in the garden, happy hour with friends?) by having a family. I did have to give up my primary hobby, Morris Dancing, when I got preggers on doc's orders (it's a very high-impact activity), and that was tough. My dance friends were also my primary social network.

As I said yesterday, having kids means that your entire life shifts drastically. I understand what it's like to be passionate about an activity, but I get where the wives are coming from too.

Posted by: deja pseu at July 29, 2007 6:37 AM

The guy comes across like a spoiled child. He needs to grow up.

Force someone to give up things that he or she loves "because of the children," and "the children" suddenly start seeming like less of a joy, and more of a burden.

Well, yes, children are a burden as well as a joy - that's not exactly news - but they are a burden this guy willingly shouldered, so he ought to start acting like a grownup and consider their welfare.

Posted by: kishke at July 29, 2007 8:31 AM

"Can a spouse veto your hobbies when those activities potentially affect your livelihood?"

Nope, because your spouse is an equal adult, not your parent.

The Daniel Pearl comparison is also specious. Pearl's job - not his hobby - was dangerous and his kid wasn't yet born. (Fatherhood often doesn't seem real until the kid is there. I've heard than many times from even the most gorgeous, loving and manly dads).

Our soccer-loving dad says this: "If I could choose to do anything, I'd play goalkeeper every day; I love the game that much."

He sounds exactly like a kid himself.

He's an adult. He can weigh the risks - to his 41-year-old body and his wife's strained forbearance.

(You know - maybe he wants the other guys to believe his wife insists he gives up the game! He sounds childish enough for this to make sense.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 29, 2007 9:29 AM

Still, Jody, there are other jobs -- far less dangerous jobs in journalism.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 29, 2007 9:49 AM

We chose to have children, two of them, and both turned out to be boys. I learned fairly early on that I could live my life in fear while these boys explored their world or I could get on with my life while leaving the hand-wringing at a minimum. My husband plays basketball several times weekly with other "old" guys and all play like they're 20, also. While it might be nice to have some control on everyone else's lives so as to be allowed more mental security, it is not my right to make these decisions. Life is a crapshoot and life is about choices. Demanding/choosing limitations for others in general (and we're only talking about the sorts of choices that are fairly benign--not drug addiction, etc.) or imposing on another's quality of life is a recipe for yet another soul-diminishing experience. It's not an easy thing to quell one's fears of various forms of loss, but this is life, folks, and there are pitfalls wherever you go.

I so tire of this debate to spawn or not. Don't have kids, I don't give a damn what you do with your life. But don't tell me how much fun you're having as if I sentenced myself to a ball and chain. Life is as fun as you make it with or without kids. The trouble with choices is that we don't always find ways to reconcile ourselves to the choices we make and to choose to be happy. Misery is equal-opportunity.

Posted by: Em at July 29, 2007 10:31 AM

What would the wife say if he got disability insurance? I bet she would still not be happy with him playing, but then they wouldn't have to worry about financial problems if he couldn't work. Is it really a concern about about financial welfare and being able to help with the kids, or is it about control?
I ride a bicycle close to 200 miles a week and my girlfriend has made it clear that she would rather I spend the time with her and that she worries about me getting hurt. She doesn't try to get me to stop though.

Posted by: William at July 29, 2007 11:01 AM

Do they not have insurance agents where this soccer guy is from? Tell your agent what you do for a living, tell him your hobbies and how much you currently earn. He or she will consult an actuarial table and quote you a price. Suit up and play.

The bigger question is the risk you run of losing the ability to be who your family needs you to be. Its a decision each person has to make. If you give up your dreams for your family, not only will you end up resenting them, they will respect you less for not meeting your potential. At the other extreme, if you accomplish great things but emotionally abandon your family you'd have been better off to have remained single and childless.

Posted by: martin at July 29, 2007 11:10 AM

Doh!
Great minds William, great minds.

Posted by: martin at July 29, 2007 11:22 AM

Ugly Scenario: SO asks you to drop your hobby. You comply, lose self-respect, resent SO. SO respects you less for being a pushover. Resent SO more.

I've had "friends" make requests or put me in situations which loudly proclaimed their low opinion of me. "Biff is treating me like an asshole - am I?" The terrible choice is to confirm their opinion or drop them like a bad habit.

Posted by: DaveG at July 29, 2007 11:37 AM

I ride a bicycle close to 200 miles a week and my girlfriend has made it clear that she would rather I spend the time with her and that she worries about me getting hurt.

I really detest this sort of thing -- even low-grade pressure to stop. In my thinking, if you love somebody, you want them to do the thing that lights them up.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 29, 2007 11:38 AM

I just remembered...I have two friends who are vegetarians, both women, both European (one Irish, one French) married to Americans. Both marriages are very happy -- they're both those couples who, after years together, still seem like newlyweds. Anyway, both of these women would rather their husbands ate a vegetarian diet -- but they don't say so. One told me that her husband loves eating meat and she would never want to take that pleasure away from him. That's love. The other sort of thing is more of a relationship as business arrangement.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 29, 2007 11:40 AM

> she also worries that I
> will damage my body to
> such a degree that it
> affects my ability to
> earn a living as a writer.

Playing soccer? If he breaks his legs, he can type from a wheelchair. If he breaks an arm, he can still write it out longhand. If he breaks both arms, he can dictate. If he's playing that viciously, or she needs control of the household that badly, then maybe this is a struggle about Other Things.

My favorite artistic person ever was Frank Zappa, a very prolific rock guitarist and composer whose sense of humor gave people who didn't care about his music the idea that he was a deranged comedian. His kids grew up to be sort-of famous on the basis of that reputation, and started showing up in sitcoms and talk shows and so forth in the 1980s. They often came off as sort of bratty and ill-tempered. It didn't mean much to me, because their Dad was where the action was. The night he died after a long battle with cancer, the eldest daughter issued a statement that "Frank Zappa has left for his final tour."

At the time that seemed like a mildly flip remark, with a kiss of the smirking wordplay from which his reputation had grown. (He once named an intricate jazz piece "The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution." I was so fascinated with the technique of the recording and instrumentation that it took twenty years to get the pun.) The "final tour!" It was show-bizzy and cute.

Eventually I realized she didn't mean to equate death with going on tour in a spirit of good humor. She was expressing that having her Dad go on tour meant just another morbid absence. A couple of years later, the widow flatly stated in an interview that "Frank didn't do love." The kids weren't brats... They were pissed.

On the other hand, I adored every concert of his I attended, and there were many. He released almost seventy albums in a career that started late (for a rock star) and ended early (for a composer), and none of them are feeble or dashed-off. Hundreds of thousands of us around the globe were enriched by his consuming enthusiasm for his work.

Aren't parents supposed to teach kids how to care deeply about things?

Posted by: Crid at July 29, 2007 12:04 PM

"Aren't parents supposed to teach kids how to care deeply about things?"

I agree 100%.

Posted by: Melissa G at July 29, 2007 12:22 PM

When you become a parent, it is important to accept that this responsibility means sacrificing some of your own desires. That said, soccer? Baseball? Not tops on the list of fatal activities. Now something like free soloing? I think any responsible parent should give up that kind of activity for the duration. If you're not willing to give up something that dangerous for the duration, don't have kids.

Luckily my husband's passion is fishing, so I don't worry much. I've always wanted to go skydiving, but though it's very safe, I realize that one tiny mistake can mean death. So I'll wait until my kids are grown. Damn it.

Posted by: Kimberly at July 29, 2007 1:14 PM

Brian writes

This is what people mean when they accuse childless people of selfishness. Personally, I don't think selfishness is a bad thing, so long as you don't let it potentially harm someone else.

When you have a child, WHAT YOU WANT STOPS BEING IMPORTANT. Therefore, you stop doing the dangerous things YOU love, for the benefit of the child. Remember, this is a future adult here, not a trophy.

You get hurt and leave your wife in the lurch, that's fine. She's a big girl, and she ought to be able to handle herself. She was doing fine before you came along and put yourself in a wheelchair, after all.

But if you're the primary breadwinner, and you put yourself out of commission, not only can't you bring home the cash, but you can't stay home and care for the kid while your wife does. So what the hell good are you to anyone at that point.

The moral of the story is this: when you decided to make another person, you decided to put away the things you do for their benefit.

Hang up the cleats.

I couldn't disagree more. She probably knew he was a sports enthusiast when she married him. She cannot suddenly decide that he has to give up his favorite pasttime. She should have thought about that before she said "I do."

As Marion wisely points out, he could do his job as a writer, even if he were paralyzed.

And what would you have him do? Chain himself to the computer and she could bring him his meals? After all, he could get hurt or killed just as easily living a life without soccer. Drunk driver, slip in the shower, etc. It's pointless to try to protect someone as if their made of fine china. That's what insurance is for.

She should be more worried about his ability to earn a living if he gives up his game. Asking him to give up something he enjoys as much as he does will undoubtedly effect his writing for the worse. (Amy could probably back me up on this.)

And what's she doing, by the way, to soften the blow if he does become injured?

Posted by: Patrick at July 29, 2007 1:47 PM

Way to miss the point, Patrick.

There are risks that one must assume to live, and risks one may assume in the pursuit of enriching life.

When you put yourself in a position of responsibility for another being's welfare, then you owe it to that person to minimize the non-essential risks you assume.

Posted by: brian at July 29, 2007 2:01 PM

Just an addendum, but as got to reading some more of the responses, I find myself disgusted by some of the attitudes. Not only is his wife being inconsiderate, she's passing on responsibility to him that they should have shared before deciding to make another person. Godparents? Or is that now considered an archaic concept? Family? Insurance? And it's really hard for me to feel so sorry for someone who worries about their financial future when they own more than one home. "...navigate the long flight of stairs at our lake house," he said. Well, if all else fails, then lakehouse can be turned over the real estate agents.

No one, by the way, has brought us the late professional animal molester, "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. He died swimming too close to stingrays, leaving a wife and two kids in the lurch. Shouldn't they both have a contingency plan should something happen to the other? Why is it all of a sudden entirely his responsibility? Has she thought about what he's going to do if something happens to her?

Contingency plans have to be in place, otherwise, don't have kids!

He should tell his knuckle-headed selfish wife that they need to have back up plans in place, and it's not all his responsibility.

Posted by: Patrick at July 29, 2007 2:03 PM

Way to miss the point, Patrick.

There are risks that one must assume to live, and risks one may assume in the pursuit of enriching life.

When you put yourself in a position of responsibility for another being's welfare, then you owe it to that person to minimize the non-essential risks you assume.

In a word, BULLSHIT! He does not owe it to anyone to give up the things he loves, just because he has a kid. Any time ANYONE is in a position of having dependents, he owes it to those dependents to have a contingency plan in place should something happen to him.

He is not guaranteed a healthy, productive existence till his kid's eighteenth birthday just by giving up soccer. He can still get hurt or killed living your idea of a "safe" life.

And his wife is not immune from this responsibility just because she doesn't play soccer. She also should have a contingency plan in place, and it's selfish and irresponsible of her to place it entirely on his shoulders.

So, like I said, insurance, godparents, sell the second home, savings (there's a concept for you!), Treasury bonds. All these things and more should be considered by both parents.

Posted by: Patrick at July 29, 2007 2:13 PM

Weird that this should come up now, as I just had this conversation with my uncle yesterday. He stopped riding a motorcycle when he had his kids as he didn't want to leave his wife and two daughters in the lurch if something happened to him. I didn't get the impression that he missed it much, but maybe he didn't care about it as much as this guy cares about soccer.

It seems to me that the fight is less about soccer than about compromise. I want to play soccer, you don't want me to. How about I get life insurance? And make sure I'm not off playing soccer while you're at home taking care of the kids every single weekend.

That said, loss of a parent isn't all about money.

But I also don't think you should give up your joy on the chance you may get hurt.

I guess you have to compromise. Make a will, get insurance, attempt to be safe. And have these conversations about values and expectations BEFORE you have kids. The Catholics have it right. Pre-marital counseling is the way to go.

Posted by: Christina at July 29, 2007 3:45 PM

In my thinking, if you love somebody, you want them to do the thing that lights them up.



Thank you, Amy. That's exactly what's missing here - any sense that this guy's wife appreciates how much he loves soccer. Admittedly, we're seeing it from his point of view, not hers; also, as he pointed out, she doesn't have a passion for anything besides family. However, that being said, given that what he's doing is legal and moral, AND given that he's a FRIGGIN' WRITER WHO DOESN'T NEED TO BE ABLE TO EVEN WALK TO MAKE A LIVING, can she summon up no empathy whatsoever for how he feels about the situation?

Gah. Every time I hear someone say, "My spouse won't let me..." about something, perpetual singlehood sounds more and more appealing. Of course, I was raised by parents who would no more have dreamed of saying, "I'm not letting you..." to each other than they would have of flying to the moon. (Now, there were plenty of things their KIDS weren't allowed to do...)

You know the ironic thing about all this? Sports injuries aren't one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Not even close. Heart disease is. And yes, there's a strong genetic component to heart disease...but there's a strong behavioral component, too. Right this second, a woman is reading that WSJ piece who has finally given up asking her sedentary, overweight husband who has been diagnosed with Type II diabetes and arterial narrowing to please just take a half-hour walk with her every night. She's thinking to herself, "God, I would KILL to have my husband be this into physical exertion." And yet, I see no sign that this guy's wife - a nurse! - is even TRYING to preserve his love of a type of exercise for the days when he's 65 and heart attacks are a concern. Or that the baseball guy's wife sees this as an issue.

As for Daniel Pearl, I'll flip this around - don't you think that parents have a stronger responsibility than most to try to ensure that the world their children will live in after they themselves are gone is a better place than it was when they were born? Because I can't reject that argument. I can criticize some of Daniel Pearl's discrete actions, but not his sense that what he was doing needed to be done. I don't know whether he made a direct mental connection between exposing terror machinations in Pakistan and making the world a better place for his son, but I do. I'm not insisting on this interpretation, by the way - just giving an alternative viewpoint.

Posted by: marion at July 29, 2007 5:23 PM

Great point, Marion, about heart disease, diabetes, etc. And I see your point about, Pearl, too.

Part of the reason I'm with Gregg (a small but important part) is that he isn't uncomfortable being with a wacky, sometimes combative broad. I'm never combative with him -- but when I see what I perceive as injustice or just rudeness, I'm going to say or do something. His only rule is that I not do it when he's right next to me, but I know I can always count on him to bail me out if I get in trouble.

Likewise, Gregg hates making small talk so I try to go to parties without him. I'm a big girl and I've been independent for a long time. It's always fun being with him, but I'd do anything not to see him have that look of a trapped animal in pain while some nitwit's trying to chat him up.

Hilariously, we were at a party recently, and a certain oily guy came over to me and said, with great urgency, "You have to tell me...where did you and your boyfriend meet!"

ME: "Uh, the Apple store at The Grove."

OILYMAN: "Why in the world wouldn't he tell me that?"

I tried to contain my laughter, and said something about him not being chatty, instead of telling him the truth:

"You're an asshole and he refuses to talk to assholes!"

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 29, 2007 5:49 PM

"before Pearl was brutally murdered by the terrorists"...

On behalf of fans of the language everywhere, let me ask you all to condemn such a redundancy, offered merely to make the made-up cutie on the evening news look as if she cared. There is no way to murder someone gently.

-----

To return to the topic, I'll be damned if I'd chase Danica Patrick, then demand she take up knitting because of "the family". I doubt that Ashley Judd is telling Dario to quit, either. What we do is who we are. You want "safe" (which doesn't even exist in nature), you get "dull". The better the brain, the greater the challenges sought. Take your pick and deal with it.

Posted by: Radwaste at July 29, 2007 8:42 PM

The Apple store, eh? I MUST hang out at the one around here more often, though I think the pickings are slimmer.

Two additional points:
1) It's funny how our viewpoints about what's acceptable and what's not get shaped by our childhoods. I wrote that my parents never "forbade" each other to do anything, and that's essentially true, but...my dad wouldn't start the car if anyone sitting in it wasn't wearing a seat belt. One spouse "nagging" the other about something like watching his/her diet (not giving up everything that tastes gooood, just making room for healthier stuff) or exercising doesn't set off my "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON" sensors. For someone else, that might be completely beyond the pale. I guess I just don't believe that someone can get the same ecstatic joy out of riding in a car or on a motorcycle without a helmet, or from not getting a colonoscopy, or...you get the idea. I'm certainly not a health fascist, but if I were married to the soccer player getting injured, I'd "insist" that he speak to some expert who could help him adjust his kick/game/whatever to reduce the risk of injury, in the hopes that he'd stay active for a long time to come. But I could be wrong - maybe there is someone out there who derives intense joy from not taking that walk once a day and sitting on the couch instead.

2) One caveat here is that, as deja pseu, mothers typically give up a lot without even thinking about it - they just often say less about it because they think of it as a "normal" part of being a parent. There's also the whole hormone thing for them. The majority of people who become mothers go through pregnancy at some point, and it's impossible to share your body with another human being for ~9 months without having to change your day-to-day habits somewhat dramatically. After the kid comes, it's still the mom who is more likely to be making the bigger change in her life in a variety of ways. I'm not saying that fathers don't give up things - I'm saying that, on average, men are a lot less likely to go into a situation thinking, "Well, I like doing X, but I just won't be able to do it any more, life sucks!" I don't think the answer, though, is demanding that one's husband give up something that brings him joy. I think the answer is more along the lines of the mom figuring out what things she's stopped doing that bring her joy, schedule one or two of those, and tell Dad that he gets some quality one-on-one parenting time. It's possible I'm being sexist and am overgeneralizing here, but I do think some of this can be laid to the differing habits (ON AVERAGE) of men and women. Men tend to be more forthright about asking for what they want (ON AVERAGE) and less likely to give things up quietly - I'm also thinking here of those studies that indicate that men are more likely to ask for higher salaries/bonuses/etc., and thus more likely to get them. This may change as parenting dynamics and the culture at large continue to change, but I don't think it's as simple as, "Some women want to live their lives just the way they did before they had kids but they want their HUSBANDS to turn into drones."

Posted by: marion at July 29, 2007 9:21 PM

I'm a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. My hubby wouldn't ask me to give it up. I love it. There was about a two year stint where I couldn't practice (work and class time conflicts) and he kept encouraging me to find a new school with accomidating times to practice at. (Out of the question, but sweet nonetheless.)

My instructor's girlfriend (both long time friends of mine) wouldn't ask him to stop either, even though the sport has given her much cause for concern. (He has a nasty tendency to break something - like a foot - during a match and then use the broken appendage more so as not to look weak.) She talked him into getting health insurace and that was the end of it. She worries, but she'd never make him give up someting that meant so much to him.

Posted by: meshaliu at July 30, 2007 7:07 AM

mothers typically give up a lot without even thinking about it - they just often say less about it because they think of it as a "normal" part of being a parent.

Very true.

Posted by: kishke at July 30, 2007 7:32 AM

I worry about BF when he goes hunting, so we got cell phones; he can call me if he's running late because he's tracking a deer, or needs help getting it out of the woods. Even though there is a real possibility of him getting hurt, at least we can communicate, and I can get to him if need be. I wouldn't dream of asking him to not hunt! (Besides, I get the benefit of eating venison, yum!)
I used to sing with a couple of local rock bands, but after my girls came along, it wasn't practical for me to do so. Now that they're older and can more or less take care of themselves, I'll go to an open jam once in a while, but the funny thing is, I don't miss it the way I thought I would. It's the same people, the same music more or less, and it gets old after a while. I need a new hobby! o_O

Posted by: Flynne at July 30, 2007 7:59 AM

There is no way to murder someone gently.

I saw that great movie about the hired killer, played by Ben Kingsley (I'm on deadline and should be working, so forgive me for not looking up the name) where he apologized for killing badly -- for not offing them right away, without suffering. The terrorists are interested, not simply in killing somebody, but in evoking maximum fear and suffering.

And for women who want to meet people, a big part of it is being open to meeting men -- saying hello, and flirting (which I did). Gregg is not exactly Mr. Chatty, as I noted above. But, after I tapped him on the shoulder so I could get a look at the iPod display (I thought he was a jerk for holding two out of three on the display...I didn't know they were different sizes and weights and he was comparing them)...I thought, "Wow, he's darling," and flirted my ass off. I let him know pretty plainly that, if he asked me out, or asked me for my number, the answer wouldn't be know. (Later, he joked, that he realized "Either you really liked me or you had rabies.") Women just don't understand this enough -- especially with quiet intellectual guys, the kind I like, you have to let them know you're interested, and then, not club them and drag them off by the hair, but let them take the initiative. If they don't, you move on...a guy who isn't man enough to ask you out after you give him all the signals short of flashing him your titties is never going to be man enough once you're in a relationship with him.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 30, 2007 8:17 AM

"before Pearl was brutally murdered by the terrorists"...

On behalf of fans of the language everywhere, let me ask you all to condemn such a redundancy, offered merely to make the made-up cutie on the evening news look as if she cared. There is no way to murder someone gently.

One word: Kervorkian.

Posted by: Patrick at July 30, 2007 10:59 PM

Touché!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 5:30 AM

On second thought, that isn't murder.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 5:31 AM

In a countrywide backlash toward matrimania and babynalia, there are mommies everywhere living squeezed schedules for the babies they squeezed out. I have mixed feelings about a daddy giving up something. One is sadness at seeing him give up soccer; he's so domesticated. Another is the hue and cry whenever a male has an adversity that is considered the norm for women...

But wait! Yes, he is now domesticated! Maybe he should have done the activity known as forethought before throwing cubs. And then perhaps decided not to.

And as for mommies' adversities, why aren't more people challenging the glorification of mommyhood?

"Throwing pups" is an animal-breeding term I heard. Animals are not capable of forethought about breeding. People are different. Just because you have reproductive organs doesn't mean you have to use them.

Once you've spawned, you have responsibilities. And parents probably often change their mind about having children... but it's too late! I don't know if the definition of responsibility must include not playing sports. I don't need to know, because I am

--Childfree

Posted by: Val at July 31, 2007 6:59 AM

I agree with most of the comments about how its silly to give up a sport "for the sake of the children" and your job. It's unfair to ask someone to do that, especially with such a lame excuse as "what if you can never write again?" or "what about the children!". That sounds melodramatic and needy.

That being said, I think its not overboard to ask your SO to play responsibly, especially in this case. If you love someone, you don't want them to get hurt - period. Not "for the children", and not "for financial reasons", but just because you love them and seeing them in pain is heart-wrenching.

It's awesome that he loves soccer. And I wouldn't ask him to stop playing, no way. But maybe I would ask him to take it easy; to wait more than two weeks after surgery to get back into the field, at the very least. No, you're not your SO's parent, but you want to keep them safe and healthy nonetheless.

You don't ask someone to stop doing what they love, but maybe you can ask them to not play as often, or maybe just remind them to take it easy. And not for the children or for the career, but because you care about them.

Posted by: CornerDemon at July 31, 2007 11:55 AM

I am a forty-two year old who still plays soccer in a men's league.

To connect playing soccer to Daniel Pearl's situation is hilarious and absurd

Every Sunday when I leave for a game my wife says "don't die out there", apparently worried I'll have a heart attack or something. She has pushed me to give it up a few time when I have been injured beyond the usual bruise or swollen knee but has never given me too hard a time.

There was a venture capitalist on my team who broke his cheek in two places going for a header (the guy had played lacrosse in college and was a BRUTAL defender). He subsequently gave the game up and I can't say I blame him.

Posted by: kwilder at July 31, 2007 1:51 PM

Wait.. let me get this straight. She wants him to give up a form of exercise (something that will keep him healthier) because it's a risk to the family?
Aroo?
He's a writer. Writing doesn't require a fully functioning body. It's optimal for parenting, but nothing was mentioned about that bothering her.

Ugh. These are the people who annoy me most. Yes, there are risks. There are risks in every single decision we make, and every action we take. Hell, breathing can be deadly if you do it wrong. They just need to weigh the risks together.

Posted by: Steph at August 2, 2007 1:15 PM

I am a soccer player myself... Let me elaborate, I am a 49 year old female soccer play - (mother and formerly married too) who has experienced and recovered from a torn ACL and meniscus (not to mention twisted ankles, bruises galore and missing toenails) (And I have a primarily desk job involving lots of computer time).

After the first few paragraphs, I was struggling with the premise. I went back and checked again. Yes he said his profession was a writer. Not a fire fighter. Not a construction worker. Not even a pianist. A writer. Not someone who must run or climb or even walk for his job. The premise that a soccer injury could affect his ability to earn living was a big, big stretch. I play with plenty of people on the four teams i am on, parents and spouses even, who are doctors, teachers, computer programmers, graphic designers, social workers, oh even a newspaper reporter.

OK he was a goal keeper and keepers do have a greater probability of finger injuries, which would slow his typing. But whether it's soccer, basketball, running on the sidewalk, tennis or golf, (ok maybe not golf) there is risk associated with living. But he was not bungee-jumping over the Amazon or swimming with sharks or whatever the extreme sports of today are.

Does his wife know what the alternative is? Increased risk of dying or being disabled from a heart attack/stroke/cancer/ diabetes/you-name-it due to lack of physical activity and lack of a positive way to get rid of the week's stress? If anything, that fact that he has a desk job makes it more important for him to get out and get exercise.

To end on a positive note, the man has several alternatives to quitting soccer:

1. Get disability insurance
2. Play in a less competitive league
3. Tame his go-all-out-for-it instinct. (He might find that hard but it can’t be as hard as quitting altogether)
4. Switch positions, involves reprogramming brain not to pick up the ball
5. Play once a week instead of twice (Cuts risk in half)
6. Play twice a week instead of three times (Cuts risk by 33%)
7. Go to marriage counseling
8. Send his wife to therapy
9. Get wife hooked on some kind of physical exercise
10. Get a new wife (just kidding, really)

Posted by: Michelle DeRobertis at August 5, 2007 10:43 AM

Right on, Michelle.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 5, 2007 10:53 AM

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